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Journey to the bottom of the sea

Giant, underwater mountains under the sea are to be explored by scientists to study species on the seabed and understand the impacts of deep-sea fishing on wildlife.

Marine scientists will spend six weeks on a marine trip to examine the seamounts of the south west Indian Ocean Ridge, said the International Union for the Conservation of Nature..

Seamounts are mountains that rise to at least 1,000 metres above the sea floor.

They contain a rich array of wildlife because of their interactions with underwater currents and attract deep sea species such as sharks which feed on creatures there.

A similar expedition in 2009 resulted in the first comprehensive survey of marine life above seamounts, and the discovery of a new species of squid.

This trip will focus on marine life near the bottom of the ocean.

Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of IUCN’s global marine and polar programme, said: “The limited knowledge of species associated with seamounts that we have today indicates that many of them grow and reproduce slowly, which makes them particularly vulnerable to over-exploitation.

“Deep sea bottom fisheries, including bottom trawling, can damage seamount habitats and negatively impact fish stocks. It can also irreversibly damage cold water corals, sponges and other animals.”

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